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ledge of nature from his own observation, happened to place the glow-worm's light in his eyes, which is only in his tail. , ,
...JOHNSON. 44 —nowl-] A head. Saxon.
45 - latch'd the Athenian's eyes.] Smeared over. Lecher, French, to lick or lacker, as the varnishers call it.
45 Extort a poor soul's patience.] Harass, torment.
43 - all yon fiery oes.]. O is used for circle.
48 Ay do perséver.] Persever was the ancient pronunciation of persevere.
49 —hind'ring knot grass--] It appears that knotgrass was anciently supposed to prevent the growth of any animal or child. So, in The Knight of the Burning Pestle.
“ Should they put him into a strait pair of gaskins, 'twere worse than knot-grass, he would never grow after it."
. STEVENS. 50 Thou shalt aby it,] i. e. pay dear for it.
5: Jack shall have Jill, &c.] These three last lines are to be found among Heywood's Epigrams on three hundred proverbs. .
52 -neif.] i. e. fist.
53 —the female ivy-] The ivy is called female as needing the support of some tree—this tree in poetry is stiled its husband.
s+ -of all these five the sense,] i. e. the five who lay asleep on the stage, viz. Demetrius, Lysander, Hermia, Helena, and Bottom.
55 so few'd, so sanded.] Flews are the large chaps of a deep-mouthed hound: and sanded means of a sandy colour, one true màrk of a blood-hound.
56 - Saint Valentine is past.] Alluding to the old saying, that birds begin to couple on St. Valentine's day.
STEEVENS. s? And I have found Demetrius like a jewel,
Mine own, and not mine own.-] Hermia had observed that things appeared double to her. Helena replies, so methinks; and then subjoins, that Demetrius was like a jewel, her own and not her own. He is here, then, compared to something which had the property of appearing to be one thing when it was another. Not the property sure of a jewel: or, if you will, of none but a false one. We should read,
And I have found Demetrius like a Gemell,
From Gemellus, a twin. For Demetrius had that night acted two such different parts, that she could hardly think them played by the same Demetrius; but that there were twin Demetrius's, like the two Sosia's in the Farce. From Gemellus comes the French Gemeau or Jumeau, and in the feminine, Gemelle or Jumelle: So in Macon's translation of The Decameron of Boccace- Il avait trois filles plus agées que les masles, des quelles les deux qui etaient Jumelles avaient quinze ans. Quatr. Jour. Nov.3.
This emendation is ingenious enough to deserve to be true.
JOHNSON. 58 I never may believe, &c.] These beautiful lines are in all the old editions thrown out of metre. They are very well restored by the later editors.
JOHNSON. 59 constancy.) Consistency; stability; certainty. 60 The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of learning, &c.— ] I do not know whether it has been before observed, that Shakspeare here, perhaps, alludes to Spencer's poem, entitled, The tears of the Muses, on the Neglect and Contempt of Learning. This piece first appeared, in quarto, with others, in 1591. The oldest edition of this play now known is dated 1600. If Spencer's poem be here intended, may we not presume that there is some earlier edition of this. But however, if the allusion be allowed, it seems to bring the play below 1591. WARTON.
61 — keen and critical.] Critical means here criticizing, censuring.
62 Unless you can find sport in their intents.] Thus all the copies. But as I know not what it is to stretch and con an intent, I suspect a line to be lost.
JOHNSON. 63 — the prologue is addrest.] i. e. ready.
64 - like a child on a recorder.] A recorder is a kind of flute. It is found in very many of the old plays.
STEEVENS. 65 Whereal, with blade,with liloody blamefulblade.] Mr. Upton rightly observes, that Shakspeare in this
line ridicules the affectation of beginning many words with the same letter. He might have remarked the same of
The raging rocks
And shivering shocks. Gascoigne, contemporary with our poet, remarks and blames the same affectation.
Johnson. This alliteration seems to have reached the height of its fashion in the reign of Hen. VIII. The following stanza is quoted from a poem On the Fall and evil Success of Rebellion, written in 1537, by Wilfride Holme. “ Loe, leprous burdeins, lubricke in loquacitie, “ Vah, vaporous villeins, with venim vulnerate, “ Proh, prating parenticides, plexious to pinnositie, * Fie, frantike fabulators, furibund, and fatuate, “Out oblatrant, oblict, obstacle, and obecate, “ Ab addict algors, in acerbitie acclamant, “Magnate in mischief, malicious to mugilate, “Repriving your Roy so renowned and radiant.” In Tasser's Husbandry, page 104, there is a poem of which every word begins with a T. STEEVENS.
I have heard of a Latin poem, Pugna Porcorum, in which every word begins with a p.
66 And like Limander, &c.] Limander and Helen, are spoken by the blundering Player for Leander and Hero. Shafalus and Procrus for Cephalus and Procris.
JOHNSON. 67 –in snuff.] Anequivocation. Snuff signifies both the cinder of a candle, and hasty anger. Johnson.
68 — and prove an ass.] The character of Theseus in this play is more exalted in his humanity, than in his greatness. Though some sensible observations on life, and animated descriptions fall from him, as it is said of Iago, you should taste him more as a soldier than as a wit, which is a distinction he is here striving to deserve, though with little success; as in support of his pretensions he never rises higher than a pun, and frequently sinks as low as a quibble.
STEEVENS. 69 A Bergomask dance,] is, (as Sir T.H observes in his Glossary), a dance after the manner of the peasants of Bergomasco, a country in Italy, belonging to the Venetians. All the buffoons in Italy affect to imitate the ridiculous jargon of that people, and from thence it became a custom to imitate their manner of dancing.
STEEVENS. 70 —foredone.] i. e. overcome.